Disputes involving property repairs can be a nightmare for landlords and tenants – and LAWTEC Solicitors can offer expert advice on property repair matters to landlords and tenants in the private sector or social housing.
Property Repairs Disputes – Tenants
LAWTEC Solicitors can advise social housing tenants and tenants in the private rental sector on taking action against a landlord for disrepair under Section 604 of the Housing Act 1985 (amended by the Local Government and Housing Act 1989).
Under the Housing Act, landlords have a legal duty to ensure that properties they rent out are fit for human habitation and meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard, including:
- Rental properties must be in a reasonable state of repair, so that a rental property’s key building components are not old or in need of replacement or major repair – and no more than one of the other building components are old or need replacing or major work.
- Rental properties should have modern facilities and services and be lacking in no more than two of the following
- a modern kitchen (20 years old or less)
- a kitchen with adequate space and layout
- a modern bathroom (30 years old or less)
- an appropriately located bathroom and lavatory
- adequate insulation from external noise (if external noise is a problem)
- adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats.
- Rental properties should also provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort – the accommodation must have both effective insulation and efficient heating.
- The external structure and also external areas – including roofs and fences – should also be well maintained and safe. Windows and doors must also be secure and operational (eg can be opened and shut securely).
- Plumbing and heating should also be well maintained with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms fitted and regular Gas Safe checks carried out.
LAWTEC Solicitors can advise tenants whose rental home falls below the legal requirements on how to bring an action for disrepair against a landlord, including compensation for:
- Damage to belongings (eg mildew, water damage)
- Illness or injury (eg caused by damp or CO poisoning)
- Inconvenience (eg resulting from not being able to use your home fully)
- Stress (eg depression, worry, anxiety).
Property Repairs Disputes – Landlords
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords have a legal duty to keep properties they rent out in a reasonable state of repair and also in a safe condition – including paying for annual Gas Safe checks and providing Energy Performance Certificates for new lettings.
Under Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972, landlords also have a legal duty to ensure tenants are kept reasonably safe from sustaining injury at a rental property.
LAWTEC Solicitors has its own in-house housing department and can advise landlords on cases in which tenants have applied for a court order as a result of alleged disrepair.
LAWTEC Solicitors can also advise landlords on tenants who have failed to fulfil their legal obligations under a lease as a result of:
- Antisocial behaviour
- Breaches of the lease
- Criminal activities
- Criminal damage
- Rent arrears
Making a Claim for Property Repairs
Rental tenants have six years from the date of disrepair (eg from the date water ingress occurred, or the roof leaked, or damp was found in the property) in which to make a claim for disrepair against a landlord.
LAWTEC Solicitors can advise tenants on litigation in disrepair cases, including drafting an initial pre-action letter setting out the details of any claim – and giving notice to a landlord to carry out specified repairs within 21 days.
As part of the Ministry of Justice’s pre-action protocol for property disrepair cases, an application for a court order can also be lodged with the court before being served on a landlord, which can act as a protective measure in property dispute claims.
Tenants should keep a diary of any problems with a rental property – including taking photographs and videos of the problems to back up their case.
LAWTEC Solicitors can advise on the level of damages that can be claimed, once the details of a disrepair case have been assessed.
LAWTEC Solicitors can also advise on dispute resolution and mediation as an alternative to court action against a landlord in disrepair cases.
Funding Property Repairs Claims
LAWTEC Solicitors can usually offer clients wishing to take legal action in a property repairs dispute a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) to fund their case.
LAWTEC Solicitors also offer a fixed fee arrangement for the initial assessment of a case involving a property repairs dispute, so our clients know exactly how much they will be paying from the outset.
Tenants taking legal action over property repairs may be eligible for Legal Aid if:
- A tenant is applying to the court to order the landlord to carry out repairs
- A tenant is defending court action brought by a landlord for eviction as a result of rent arrears
- There is a serious risk to the health and safety of a tenant or their family.
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